CEOs benefit from executive teams that keep the big picture in mind as data are presented and look beyond day-to-day operations, writes veteran CEO Joel Trammell. "[I]f you're not clear about what you need, not even the CEO will be able to help effectively," Trammell writes.
Small Business Administration chief Maria Contreras-Sweet says she's inspired by her mother, an immigrant who raised six children while working at a poultry processing plant. Contreras-Sweet's mother had confidence and raised her children to have the same sense of self-worth. "I think that's important to instill in our young girls -- that we matter, we deserve to be heard and we deserve to be treated equally," she says.
Failure can be a springboard to success, if you handle it well, writes Joel Garfinkle. The key is to handle mistakes quickly, seek out the lessons from each failure and reward workers for their real achievements, rather than simply their ability to avoid making mistakes. "[C]onvince your people that the occasional blunder is worth it and will be applauded rather than condemned," Garfinkle advises.
Benjamin Franklin, Marcel Proust and Ludwig van Beethoven had different careers and habits to get them in a creative mood, but each found what worked to stir insight and productivity. Oliver Burkeman distills six broad lessons from these and other thinkers but warns that there's no substitute for "immeasurable talent and extremely hard work."
Bosses need to prioritize, but that doesn't mean saying "no" to valid requests, say Kevin Eikenberry and Mike Figliuolo. Rather than shooting down requests and ideas, explain your priorities so workers and managers can understand why some tasks are better left on the back burner. "There is always a higher priority item; it's just a matter of us being clear on what the current priority list is," Eikenberry says.